The Indian cricket team created history in Australia as they won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the third straight time by winning the four-Test series 2-1. The win was made a lot sweeter when the Indian cricket team overcame the absence of their talismanic skipper Virat Kohli and also overcame injuries to Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari to script a fairytale win in Brisbane. The win at The Gabba was one of the best in the history of Indian cricket and it ended Australia’s 32-year reign of dominance at the venue. However, the chance to script this wonderful history almost did not take place. In an interaction between India fielding coach R Sridhar and Ravichandran Ashwin, it has now been revealed that the Indian cricket team was reportedly subject to casual racism and Ravi Shastri had almost threatened to boycott the whole tour.
In the Sydney Test, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were subject to racial abuse. Siraj reported the matter to the authorities and some fans were ejected. However, Ravichandran Ashwin revealed another weird instance that might fall under the category of casual racism. The offspinner related an incident when using a lift in Sydney.
“In Sydney, there was a weird scenario. Both India and Australia were in the same bubble. But when Australian players were in the lift, we were not allowed to enter. It was very difficult to see. We are all in the same bubble, but you get into the lift and share the lift space!”, Ashwin said in his Youtube interaction with fielding coach R Sridhar. To this, R Sridhar said, it was very humiliating.
Following the win in Adelaide, the Indian cricket team arrived in Melbourne and before the Boxing Day Test began, some Indian players went to a hotel to eat and their bill was paid by a fan. The Indian cricket team appreciated the gesture but apparently, they fell foul of Cricket Australia’s bio-bubble protocol. However, Ravichandran Ashwin had a different take on the entire situation. “Before 2021 started, there was plenty of drama in Melbourne. When they had called us to Australia, they had said you’ve already been in a bubble for 3.5 months (for the IPL). We were told there will only be a ‘soft bubble’ in Australia after quarantining for 14 days. They said you can go for coffees, watch movies, go out and be jolly… but suddenly after the series was 1-1, they said to stay in your rooms! How can we stay in the room forever? I was here with my family and the kids were eating my ears. It was a challenging time, news was all over media,” Ashwin said.
Threat of boycott
In the interaction, it was revealed that India cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri threatened the BCCI and Cricket Australia that they would boycott the tour of Australia and told them to ‘do whatever you want, we will not tour.’ The main bone of contention? Cricket Australia had suddenly disallowed entry to the player’s families. After being in the UAE for nearly three months, the players and their families came to Dubai where they would go to Sydney to be in a 14-day isolated quarantine due to the coronavirus.
In the interaction, R Sridhar said, “There were seven families then, how could we convey it to them? And then entered Ravi Shastri. He called for a Zoom call and said “if they don’t allow my boys’ families, we will not go for the tour! Do whatever you want, we’ll see.” And then he said one thing: No one knows Australia more than me. I’ve been going for 40 years. I know how to talk to them, how to bargain with them.” The BCCI was shaken. Overnight, the Australian government worked in the weekend and got permission!”